Climbing to new heights at Alyeska
If you think climbing a mountain is tough, think again. And again. That’s the concept behind the six annual North Face Vertical Challenge Climb-a-thon, which is set for 9 a.m. Sept. 14 at Alyeska Resort. The event challenges participants to race up the mountain not once, or twice, but as many times as possible in a given time period. The winner is the person to rack up the most elevation gain in one day.
“One of the unique aspects of the event is the tram ride down,” said Brian Burnett, the mastermind behind the event, which is growing in popularity each year. “It mixes the entire field together. It puts the elite runners and the casual hikers in the same mode.”
Last year’s climb-a-thon included 113 people, who completed a total of 708 laps, Burnett said.
“That means the average person did seven laps – that’s 14,000 feet vertical,” he said. It’s impressive, he added, to watch people who tell him at the beginning of the race, ‘I’m going to be really happy if I get two done.’
“And I see them eight hours later, and they are churning out their fifth, sixth, seventh lap,” he said. “Everybody’s smiling and giving a thumbs-up and covered in mud and whooped.”
This year’s event holds even extra special import, Burnett said, because it gives participants a chance to raise money to help fight women’s cancers. He is working with Let Every Woman Know Alaska, a nonprofit serving Alaskans faced with gynecological cancers, as well as the Girdwood Health Clinic and Globeathon to raise money to find cures for these cancers. Let Every Woman Know will receive 50 percent of funds raised, while Girdwood Health Clinic and Globeathon will split the remaining 50 percent.
“In January, my wife was diagnosed with late-stage ovarian cancer and we went through a pretty shitty winter,” he said. “We’re expecting great news and she is doing well, but it was tough. This is a way for me to kind of get back to the community and start to say thanks for helping me and my wife get through the ordeal we’ve just gone through.”
The event also promises to be a lot of fun. Participants can come the night before to watch a free screening of the documentary “No Evidence of Disease,” playing at the Sitzmark. It follows the trials and tears and triumphs of six women dealing with a diagnosis of cancer. While the topic is serious, the race the next day promises to be hopeful.
“It’s one of those events that really feeds on itself,” Burnett said. “There is no other event like it on the planet. We go out of our way to say there’s not a stopwatch on this event.”
To register (entry is $50 per climber), donate or get more information on the Climb-a-thon, go to akclimbathon.dojiggy.com or visit the events page at the Alyeska Resort website, www.alyeska
After a summer of play, pay it forward at National Public Lands event
We all know and love the public lands in our Southcentral Alaska backyard – from Chugach State Park’s towering peaks, to the meandering trails of the Bureau of Land Management’s Campbell Tract to the distant mountains of the U.S. National Forest Service, there is no shortage of wilderness in which we can play.
On Sept. 28, outdoors lovers can say thank-you for all that fun at their fingertips by volunteering for a morning of trail and maintenance work at Campbell Creek Science Center’s annual National Public Lands Day volunteer and open house.
“We will be spreading gravel on a trail, installing a bear-resistant trash can, and installing some benches at a trailhead,” said Luise Woelflein, environmental education coordinator at the center. “We’re also going to be doing some re-vegetation work along the creek, replacing fence posts near the building, spreading woodchips on activity trails, and more.”
National Public Lands Day, Woelflein said, is one of the few events during which there is extra help to be had. The event typically draws in the 130- to 170-person range, but some years has tipped into the 200s. The Girl Scouts usually come out in force, and other outdoor-user groups, such as Singletrack Advocates, often pitch in. All of those extra hands are greatly appreciated, she said, because “there are always improvements that we want to make or maintenance that we need to do on the trails and around the building.”
The center will celebrate all the accomplishments of the volunteers with a pizza luncheon immediately following the work, complete with door prizes provided by many area businesses. Afterward, the center will keep its doors open for an open house, focused on the theme, “Let’s Move Outside.” National Public Lands Day not only gives people across the country a chance to give back to public lands, but it also offers a chance for participants to learn more about natural resource management and the need for shared stewardship of these lands.
There will be disc golf, slack lining, a story book activity that will take you through the woods, winter biking information and geocaching, among other activities. There will even be live music.
One of the highlights of the event, Woelflein said, will be the unveiling of the center’s annual poster calendar.
“It’s always an animal that can be found on Campbell Tract, and last year it was a hairy woodpecker,” Woelflein said, adding only one hint to this year’s theme: “This year it will be a mammal.”
National Public Lands Day and the Campbell Creek Science Center’s open house is set for Sept. 28. Volunteers can show up as early as 8:30 a.m. to register and begin work on the projects, followed by a free pizza lunch at the center. Wear warm clothes, boots and gloves. BLM will provide the tools and equipment. The afternoon open house is 1:30-4:30 p.m. For more information, contact the center at 267-1241. ◆
Watercraft racers have hot season under sunny skies
The Alaska Personal Water Craft Racing series had a phenomenal summer for being on the water, with great weather and fast racing. The series kicked off June 22 at the Wasilla Lake Resort and a handful of Alaska riders tested their skills on the largest and most complicated buoy course in Alaska history.
Rydell Jones, Alaska’s fastest stand-up Jetski racer, blazed through a course featuring 27 turns with a split course on one side, a horse shoe in the middle and a huge super course route for sitdowns.
On race day, ex-professional women’s ski racer Kelley Borgen showed up with a trailer full of mod 550s and three of the fastest junior racers in the state. Fourteen-year-old Shay Stiers, Sky Stiers, 12, and Ally Stiers, 10, showed that junior ski racing is still very much alive in Alaska. The three did their best on the courses, and in the end, the junior prize of $75 went to Shay Stiers.
In the Women’s Ski Limited class, Samantha Curry of Fairbanks showed up ready to race, recovering from a sweeper crash early on, looking strong midway through and then encountering one more mishap in Moto 3, which resulted in a DNF. Still, she’ll be one to watch in future races, and was the limited overall winner for the day. New comer to stand-up ski racing and Pro-Am World ranked sit-down racer Rachel Mentzel took a Moto 3 overall win in the combined class.
In Expert Ski Open Beau Bivins came to the line with his game face on, battling a leaking exhaust pipe gasket and finishing second in Moto 1 and Moto 2 (and a DNF due to mechanical in Moto 3). Mack Bergstedt came out a little slow in Moto 1. After a quick few turns he took the lead and never looked back winning Moto 1. In Moto 2 Bergstedt lead start to finish with a big margin, clearing the way for a potential podium spot. In the end, though, both Bivins and Bergstedt had issues that bumped them out of the money races, leaving Mentzel and Curry battling for those top spots. For more details on watercraft racing in Alaska, go to the Personal Watercraft Club of Alaska’s website at www.pwcalaska.org. ◆
Tuesday Night Race Series begins Sept. 10
One of the best running bargains – and a way to remember Bonny Sosa and her love of fitness – begins this month with Anchorage Parks and Recreation’s Bony Sosa Tuesday Night Race Series. Races will be held Tuesday Sept. 10 through Nov. 5 and include divisions for youngsters, recreational runners and racers. This fall family tradition continues with fun race courses both flat and hilly, challenging and entertaining (come dressed up for the Oct. 29, Halloween race!).
The Munchkin and Farm Leagues, designed for kids and recreational runners, tend to stay on well-lit, marked trails. The Lightning League, designed for those who want a PR, can follow game trails, cross streams and even slog through swamps. Come prepared for fun – and an affordable price tag. The races cost just $2 for children, $5 for adults or $10 for families if you register online, or $5, $10 and $20, respectively, if you register onsite. Season passes are $30 for adults or $60 for families. Kids race anywhere from 1 to 3 kilometers, while Farm League racers will race 3-10K, and Lightning Leaguers will go 4-12K.
Register online at Active.com. Online registration closes at 12:30 p.m. the day of the event. Check in begins at 5:30 and races begin at 6:30. ◆
TUESDAY NIGHT RACES 2013 Schedule
Sept. 10: Kincaid Park
Sept. 17: Kincaid Park
Sept. 24: Kincaid Park
Oct. 1: Albrecht Fields
Oct. 8: TBA
Oct. 15: Service High School
Oct. 22: Service High School
Oct 29: Kincaid Park Costume Run; come out wearing your Halloween costumes.
Nov. 5: Kincaid Outdoor Center, awards celebration banquet and dessert potluck. Pizza provided.
Ice Climbing Festival kicks off at Mat Glacier
The Mountaineering Club of Alaska’s annual Ice Climbing Festival is set for Sept. 27-29 at Matanuska Glacier, and those planning to attend must be at the pre-trip meeting Sept. 25 at BP Energy Center. The annual ice climbing school is suitable for beginner, intermediate and expert climbers who want to learn and hone their skills. Details on the trip can be found at the club’s website, as well as information on the mandatory pre-trip meeting. Go to www.mtnclubak.org and scroll to the “What We Do” tab.